Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Never Say Never Again [1983]

Many people steadfastly refuse to list Never Say Never Again as a James Bond movie, given the fact that it was not produced by Albert Broccoli or his offspring.

We here at You Only Blog Twice have a more enlightened approach, and realize that not counting it as a James Bond movie is a simple fallacy.  Want an analogy?  Not counting it because of the origins of its production would be like saying that the Columbus Clippers are not a baseball team simply because they are not a member of the MLB.  That, of course, would be a silly statement, given that the Columbus Clippers demonstrably play baseball.

Similarly, Never Say Never Again is demonstrably a James Bond film.  It doesn't count as part of what we think of as the James Bond series, as produced by the Broccoli family, but that doesn't negate the fact that James Bond is its protagonist.

And so, for better or for worse, You Only Blog Twice is going to give it the same treatment we've given every other James Bond movie.

By the way, before we get started, maybe a wee bit of context is in order.  The reason producer Jack Schwartzman was able to make Never Say Never Again is because Ian Fleming was, depending on how you look at things, a plagiarist.  Well before the first Bond movie, Dr. No, was made, there had been attempts by various parties to launch a film series based on the Bond character.  One of those parties was producer Kevin McClory, who, along with screenwriter Jack Whittingham and Fleming himself, helped to originate many of the ideas that would form the basis of Thunderball.  When their proposed movie failed to get made, Fleming took the ideas from the story sessions -- including the ones McClory and Whittingham had come up with -- and incorporated them, without credit, into the novel Thunderball.

Needless to say, this did not please McClory and Whittingham, and both sued Fleming over the matter.  None of this came to a head until after Dr. No had been released, and it made some trouble for producers Albert Broccoli and Harry Saltzman.  The eventual verdict granted film rights to Thunderball to McClory, who struck a deal to co-produce the film with Broccoli and Saltzman.

He also retained rights to remake the film after a period of ten years, and once that time had elapsed, he began seeking to do so.  Eventually, he sold those rights to Jack Schwartzman, who was able to convince Sean Connery to star.

And thus, we have Never Say Never Again: a tepid bath, a lukewarm bowl of oatmeal, a rampant mediocrity, a pointless remake of Thunderball .. but, in every sense including the legal one, demonstrably a James Bond film.

Let's explicate the nature of its shittiness, shall we?